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By Mariko McDonald | June 30, 2005

Then it was time for the second film. We’d programmed “Matango” second since it required greater concentration and this was more likely to happen later in the evening after some people had left. However, only one person left. The other fifteen stuck it out, eating our leftover wedding candy and gossiping among themselves.

“Matango” starts in a shadow filled hospital room, as the only survivor of an ill-fated boat cruise tells his tale of woe. We then flash back to where it all started to go wrong and immediately the “Gilligan’s Island” references started. There were cheers for the drunken captain, and then an argument over who was Gilligan. It was observed that there was a beatnik, but no Gilligan, which is funny if you’re familiar with Bob Denver’s early career. Then, the musical sequence: the sluttier of the two girls on the boat starts strumming on her ukulele and warbling about something.

At about the 20 minute mark Andria started whining for mushroom people and even my sister was getting into it, making a “Chariots of Fire” joke. There was a creepy ghost ship and my husband’s demand that we adopt a feral child and tame him. Then Karen piped up that she couldn’t follow what was happening and couldn’t “handle the suspense”. Then Graeme made a “Dream Catcher” reference and Karl and Owen both shuddered.

No one missed the fact that the mushrooms were strangely phallic, but that didn’t stop anyone from moving around or stealing seats. Then Corinne showed up and we had to stop everything since it was her birthday and to celebrate Graeme had brought pie. There was singing of “Happy Birthday” and a brief recap from Graeme: “Red and moldy. ‘Gilligan’s Island’. Everyone’s really scared all the time.”

When we got back to the movie everyone’s care-level was dropping. My husband started a conversation about “The Awkward Adventures of Darth Vader,” his proposed television pilot. Corinne started singing the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song but was not reprimanded for repeating jokes since she just got there. Rachael commented that it was interesting that the women had to do the manual labor while the men got to “look around”. There were yet more grumbles about the slow pace and Karl and Graeme started riffing on what happens when you eat a mushroom:

Karl: “Do you get bigger?”

Graeme: “An extra life?”

Which was followed by the requisite “Goomba” jokes. There were some good suspenseful moments and then Graeme and newbie Will complained again about the slowness. Brendan was asleep. I was starting to lose my patience, but realized I had no one to blame but myself.

About an hour in and our original narrator had returned. Someone commented that this was a bad movie to watch while on shrooms. Or acid. Will called Corinne out on her obsession with homosexual subtext. Those who were still paying attention observed the progressive stance towards the opposite sex the film took, by teaching that the way to a girl’s heart was to “scare her first, then be nice to her”. Then Karen complained about the violence and Corinne shared some cooking advice on mushroom gleaned from watching “Iron Chef”: “never soak mushrooms”.

By the time things finally wrapped up, people were angry. Words like “sucked” and “boring” were bandied about. Will was confused by the sudden “deepness” at the end of the film. And everyone agreed that it needed more ukulele.

Rumblings from the Peanut Gallery: I’m not sure if it was the fact that we had 17 people crammed into our apartment, or if people were just having an off day, but things had not gone as I had expected. I guess programming the sillier selection at the start of the night was my first mistake. Providing everyone with sugary candy and pie would have been my second. Some highlights included the proposed “Great Monster Battles on Mount Fuji” video series and Rachael’s observations regarding Japanese emergency etiquette (“they’re evacuating in a single line”). Other than that, I now know: unless it’s new, Japanese suspense does not play well to a larger crowd. Oh well.

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